Latest - Scams and Cons

 

164 Instagram users report losing over £350,000 to investment scams.

During June 2020, Action Fraud received 164 reports from individuals falling victim to fraudulent investment schemes, commonly referred to as a ‘money flipping’ service offered by users on the Instagram social media platform. These reports have amounted to a combined financial loss of £358,809. Fraudsters approach (or are approached by) victims via the instant messaging feature of the platform after advertising their service. They claim to only require an initial investment of a few hundred pounds which they say will be used to trade on the stock market or to buy and trade foreign currency (Forex) until they have multiplied the investment several times within a matter of days which is paid to the victim after a small commission is deducted for the service.

In reality, once the initial investment has been transferred the victim is given a series of excuses as to why their money and ‘profits’ cannot be returned unless more money is sent. Eventually all contact is severed and the victim is blocked by the suspect. Victims are usually requested to send the money by bank transfer or through a cryptocurrency platform which means it is nearly impossible to retrieve.Whilst individual financial losses from this fraud are comparably smaller than other types of fraudulent investment schemes, this fraud targets a younger demographic, typically aged between 20 and 30, with less savings or those who are financially vulnerable and are searching for a quick and easy way to make money.

Spot the signs and protect yourself online

Unsolicited offers: A common tactic used by criminals is to promote “investment” opportunities via social media accounts, promising large returns from a small up-front payment. Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred through your account, by someone you don’t know and trust.

Investment opportunities: Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.

Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family members, and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions.

FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money. For more information about how to invest safely, please visit: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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UK Finance unveils ten Covid-19 and lockdown scams to be aware of.

Using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity, fraudsters are using sophisticated methods to callously exploit people, with many concerned about their financial situation and the state of the economy. To coincide with the launch of its new animation urging people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, UK Finance today reveals ten Covid-19 and lockdown scams which criminals are using to target people to get them to part with their money.

 Some scams manipulate innocent victims, urging people to invest and “take advantage of the financial downturn”. Others impersonate well-known subscription services to get people to part with their cash and personal information. Criminals are even posing as representatives from the NHS Test and Trace service in an effort to trick people into giving away their personal details.

To remind people that criminals are experts at impersonating trusted organisations, UK Finance has launched a new animation video urging people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. Consumers are reminded to always take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or information in case it’s a scam.

 The ten scams to be on the lookout for and how to spot them:

Covid-19 financial support scams

  1. Criminals have sent fake government emails designed to look like they are from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500. The emails contain links which steal personal and financial information from victims
  2. Fraudsters have also been sending scam emails which offer access to ‘Covid-19 relief funds’ encouraging victims to fill in a form with their personal information.
  3. Criminals have been targeting people with official-looking emails offering a ‘council tax reduction’. These emails, which use government branding, contain links which lead to a fake government website which is used to access personal and financial information.
  4. Fraudsters are also preying on benefit recipients, offering to help apply for Universal Credit, while taking some of the payment as an advance for their “services”.

Health scams

  1. One of the most shocking scams that has appeared during the pandemic has involved using the NHS Test and Trace service. Criminals are preying on an anxious public by sending phishing emails and links claiming that the recipient has been in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19. These lead to fake websites that are used to steal personal and financial information or infect devices with malware.
  2. Victims are also being targeted by fake adverts for Covid-related products such as hand sanitizer and face masks which do not exist.

Lockdown scams

  1. Criminals are sending fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing, telling people they are eligible for six months of free TV license because of the coronavirus pandemic. Victims are told there has been a problem with their direct debit and are asked to click on a link that takes them to a fake website used to steal personal and financial information.
  2. Amid a rise in the use of online TV subscription services during the lockdown, customers have been targeted by criminals sending convincing emails asking them to update their payment details by clicking on a link which is then used to steal credit card information.
  3. Fraudsters are also exploiting those using online dating websites by creating fake profiles on social media sites used to manipulate victims into handing over their money. Often criminals will use the identities of real people to strike up relationships with their targets.
  4. Criminals are using social media websites to advertise fake investment opportunities, encouraging victims to “take advantage of the financial downturn”. Bitcoin platforms are using emails and adverts on social media platforms to encourage unsuspecting victims to put money into fake investment companies using fake websites.

The banking and finance sector is working with the government and law enforcement to help identify scams and prevent people becoming victims of fraud. The industry is also encouraging everyone to remain vigilant and to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and to Stop, Challenge and Protect when they receive any messages out of the blue:

Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

In order to spot a Covid-19 scam, people should be on high alert if:

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Action Fraud is warning the public about phishing emails, sent out by criminals, claiming to be from PayPal.

The warning comes after Action Fraud received over 1,000 reports within 24 hours on 20 July 2020 about emails claiming to be from PayPal. The emails state the recipient’s account has been “limited” as a result of a policy violation.

The emails then ask for customers to update their account, or check the security of their account by clicking a link in the email. The links provided in the emails lead to genuine-looking websites that are actually phishing sites designed to steal PayPal login details, as well as personal and financial information.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“Phishing is a gateway to fraud. These emails are commonly used by criminals to gain access to your personal and banking details, which they then use to steal your identity or your money.

“It is common for criminals to spoof the legitimate phone number or email address of a trusted organisation, to trick us into providing information. If you receive a message out of the blue that seems suspicious, take five minutes to check directly with the organisation or brand contacting you that the communication is genuine. If something feels wrong then always question it.

More Information

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Crown Prosecution Service issues warning after man jailed for offering fake refunds during lockdown.

The Crown Prosecution Service has warned the public to beware of fraudsters exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic after a man was today jailed for 30 weeks for offering fake Government refunds. Mohammed Khan, 20, sent more than one thousand texts claiming to be from the authorities offering refunds to people as part of the Government’s response to the pandemic.

He obtained 191 sets of personal details and used 49 for fraud. The total loss to his victims was £10,019.17.

One text message read: ‘UKGOV: You are eligible for a Tax Refund as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please fill out the following form so that we can process your refund.’  Andrew Penhale, Head of the Specialist Fraud Division at the CPS, said: “As law enforcement agencies see a rise in people exploiting the Coronavirus crisis to commit fraud, the CPS continues to evolve its response to the challenges we all face. “Our prosecutors are prepared for any potential increase in fraud-related files for us to consider, and are focused on our essential work to keep the public safe.

“If you think you have been a victim you should contact your bank and report anything suspicious to the police or Action Fraud.”

Khan’s call data showed that he had sent out 1,200 such text messages over two days. The messages contained links to fraudulent websites which looked identical to the real ones. Recipients were told to go to these and enter their personal details including their name, address, card security number, mother’s maiden name and passwords. Khan also faked messages from mobile phone company Three UK. He sent customers a message that read: ‘Due to the current pandemic we are issuing a refund for your last bill. Please verify your details so we can process your refund.’

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to fraud and the possession of articles for use in the course of fraud between 22 March and 9 May, 2020. Patricia Deighan, Crown Advocate at the CPS, said: “This was a manipulative and pre-meditated fraud that affected at least 49 victims who lost money. “When police arrested him at his home, he initially claimed to have lost his phone. But when officers called his number, they could hear the phone ringing and Khan later pointed out that the handset was outside on the balcony.

“I hope this sentence serves as a reminder that the CPS will work with criminal justice partners to root out and prosecute fraudsters at every opportunity.”

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UK Finance warns consumers to beware of Coronavirus holiday scams

Consumers are being urged to be on the lookout for holiday scams including fake caravan and motorhome listings, refund offers and travel deals, as criminals take advantage of uncertainty around coronavirus travel restrictions and cancellations to target their victims and commit fraud.

Read More on the Action Fraud Web Site

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Ticket Fraud Warning as venues prepare to re-open

With pubs, restaurants, cinemas and museums set to reopen with social distancing measures, demand for tickets and reservations is likely to be high. We're reminding people to take extra care when buying tickets online.

Spot the signs of ticket fraud:

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Test & Trace Scam

Please be aware of a scam involving a phone call claiming to be from the NHS Test and Trace Service, informing you that they have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive for Coronavirus; they need to self-isolate and take a test. The caller refuses to disclose who the householder has been in contact with but asks them to confirm their address so a testing kit can be sent to them. The caller then asks for payment card details to cover cost of the testing kit.

The NHS Test and Trace service is free and:

You can read more about NHS Test and Trace and what to do if you have been in contact with someone who has Coronavirus at:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/nhs-test-and-trace-if-youve-been-in-contact-with-a-person-who-has-coronavirus/

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Courier Fraud

What is courier fraud?
Fraudsters telephone a potential victim, claiming to be from their bank, the police or another law enforcement authority. They then trick the person into revealing their PIN and agreeing to hand over their debit or credit card.

What should I look out for?
Calls where someone claims to be from your bank or the police. They may say that a fraudulent payment has been spotted on your card, or that someone has been arrested using your details and cards.
They may then ask you to ring back using the phone number on the back of your card. This is to make you believe that the call is genuine. But the fraudster keeps the line open at their end, so you are actually connected straight back to them or an accomplice.
They will ask for your PIN, or sometimes ask you to key it into your phone’s handset.
The scammer then sends a courier or taxi to pick up your card from your home. It is possible the driver does not know they are being used as part of the scam.
Once they have your card and PIN, the scammer can spend your money.

What should I do if this happens to me, or someone I know?
If you have given the fraudster any details, you need to call your bank to cancel your cards. Either use a different phone, or wait at least ten minutes before calling, so that the fraudsters will be disconnected from the line.

Report it to Action Fraud or to the police by calling 101.

Remember:

Your bank will never send a courier to your home
Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card
Your bank and the police will never ask for your PIN
If you receive one of these calls, end it immediately

Need to report a potential fraud? Call 0300 123 2040 or visit the Action Fraud website.

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Criminals are exploiting the Covid-19 Pandemic

Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try and get their hands on your money and personal information. To date, Action Fraud has received reports from 2,378 victims of Coronavirus-related scams, with the total losses reaching over £7 million.

How you can protect yourself from Coronavirus-related scams:

There are some simple steps you can take that will protect you from the most common Coronavirus-related scams. Here’s what need to do:

1 - Watch out for scam messages
Your bank, or other official organisations, won’t ask you to share personal information over email or text. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): report@phishing.gov.uk

2 - Shopping online
If you're making a purchase from a company or person you don't know and trust, carry out some research first, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, other payment providers may not provide the same protection.

3 - Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering tech support
Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call. Remember, legitimate organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

NHS Test and Trace scams:

The NHS Test and Trace service plays an important role in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public have confidence and trust in the service. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams.

What you need to know:

Contact tracers will only call you from the number 0300 013 5000. Anyone who does not wish to talk over the phone can request the NHS Test and Trace service to send an email or text instead, inviting them to log into the web-based service.

All text or emails sent by NHS Test and Trace will ask people to sign into the contact tracing website and will provide you with a unique reference number. We would advise people to type the web address https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk directly into their browser, followed by the unique reference number given to you, rather than clicking on any link provided in the message.

The NHS Test and Trace service will never:
• ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
• ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
• ask for any details about your bank account
• ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
• ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
• ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
• ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040

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Scam Advice - Withdrawing Money

We would like to offer you some safeguarding and safety advice regarding scammers that are active at the moment.
 
We have had reports of police ringing residents asking them for money. Please note that the police nor the banks will ever ring you asking you to withdraw money.
 
If the police do ever visit your property then please ask to see their warrant card and ring 101 to ask to verify their collar number. Our officers will never mind you carrying out these checks to verify who they are.
 
If you get any phone calls or emails that you believe to be a scam, are asking for your details or for money please do not engage with them and ring 101 to report it to the police. If anyone turns up at your door asking for money or access to your property and you are unsure who they are then please ring 999 and we will look to send an officer to speak with them.

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Friends Against Scams

Visit the Friends Against Scams Web Site

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Public urged to flag coronavirus related email scams as online security campaign launches

Cross-governmental ‘Cyber Aware’ campaign launched, which offers actionable advice for people to protect passwords, accounts and devices.

CYBER experts have launched measures to protect the UK from online harm as the country continues to rely more on technology while staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ, has today launched the cross-governmental ‘Cyber Aware’ campaign, which offers actionable advice for people to protect passwords, accounts and devices.

In addition to the broader campaign, the organisation has this morning published specific advice for personal and professional use of video conferencing services, with top tips on setting up your accounts, arranging a chat and protecting your device.

The NCSC has also today launched the pioneering Suspicious Email Reporting Service’, which will make it easier for people to forward suspicious emails to the NCSC – including those claiming to offer services related to coronavirus.

This will build on the organisation’s existing takedown services, which have already removed more than 2,000 online campaigns related to coronavirus in the last month, including;

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Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud innocent people, including sending fake emails and texts purporting to be from Government

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Advice on Covid Scams from Hampshire Police

Read the Latest Bulletin - April 2020

Anyone who has been a victim of fraud or cybercrime can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040

If you've been affected by crime you can contact the Victim Support Team on 0808 178 1641

Criminals target members of the public with NHS scam messages.

We have received 41 reports of a scam email purporting to be from HM Government asking for donations to the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is a fake email and your money will only end up in the hands of a criminal.

The NHS will never ask you to send money directly to a bank account. If you would like to donate to the NHS you can do so via their official channels or your local NHS Trust. 

Don't click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details. 

For the latest health information and advice about COVID-19 please visit the NHS website

For more Information on this scam visit the Action Fraud Web Site

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Scam Alert - Cybercrime Exploiting Covid-19

Please see information relating to the many online scams being conducted under the banner of "COVID-19", "Coronavirus", "Working from Home", "Self-Isolation" and "Financial Support/Hardship".

Extra care needs to be taken as we are more excepting of going to unfamiliar websites and receiving emails from unusual sources whilst dealing with current events.
 

Fraud types and advice - Individuals

Online Shopping and Auction Fraud
Seek advice: If you’re purchasing goods and services from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask friends or family for advice before completing a purchase.

Scam messages: Be wary of unsolicited emails and texts offering questionably good deals, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

Payment method: Avoid paying for good and services by bank transfer as that offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or payment services such as PayPal.

If you have made a payment: Inform your bank as soon as possible, they can help you prevent any further losses. Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.
 
Computer Software Service Fraud
Installing software: Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call.

Financial details: Genuine organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

Tech support: If you need tech support, ask your friends or family for recommendations and look for reviews online first. Don’t contact companies promoting tech support services via browser pop-ups.

If you have made a payment: Inform your bank as soon as possible, they can help you prevent any further losses. Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.

If you granted remote access to your computer: Seek technical support to remove any unwanted software from your computer. Ask your friends or family for recommendations and look for reviews online first. Don’t contact companies promoting tech support services via browser pop-ups.
 
Lender Loan Fraud
Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family members first if you’re using a loan company you’re unfamiliar with, or if the lender requires an up-front fee.

Scam messages: Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.

If you have made a payment: Inform your bank as soon as possible, they can help you prevent any further losses. Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.
 
Pension Liberation fraud
Investment opportunities: Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.

Seek advice first: Before making significant financial decisions, speak with trusted friends or family members, or seek professional independent advice. The Pension Advisory Service (PAS) also provides free independent and impartial information and guidance.

FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.

Tax charges: Ensure sure you are aware of any tax charges (up to 70%), plus other fees, that will be deducted from the amount you withdraw before making any decisions. 
 
Investment Fraud
Investment opportunities: Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.

Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family members, and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions.

FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.
 

Advice for businesses

Mandate Fraud
Verify: If you receive a request to move money into a new bank account, contact the supplier directly using established contact details, to verify and corroborate the payment request.
Internal processes: Establish robust internal processes for handling changes to payment details. For example, only designated employees should be able to make changes to payment arrangements.

Sensitive information: Invoices, payment mandates, and other documents containing sensitive financial information should be stored securely and only be accessible to those staff that need them to perform their duties. Sensitive documents should be shredded before they are disposed of.

If you have made a payment: Inform your bank as soon as possible, they can help you prevent any further losses. Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.

For those working at home, my colleagues at City of London Police have produced some very helpful guides to stay safe online

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